Beyond Zero Emissions has launched a new vision for an Australian economy embracing investments in zero emissions technologies which could create more than one million new jobs in Australia over the next five years.

The plan, which proposes up to 90 gigawatts of new wind and solar projects be constructed, along with investments in improving housing energy performance and public transport systems, and a rejuvenated Australian manufacturing sector based on green exports.

This could include a continued ramping-up of Australia’s renewable hydrogen export capabilities, and shifting energy intensive manufacturing processes like steel production to zero-emissions alternatives to coal traditionally used by Australian industry, such as the use of green hydrogen as a source of heat.

The analysis undertaken by Beyond Zero Emissions found that around three times as many jobs were created by investments in renewable energy and energy as the same level of investment in the fossil fuel industry, and that the sector should be embraced by governments based on a plan that could see as many as one million Australians put to work.

In addition to a rapid ramping-up of Australia’s wind and solar generation capacity, on Beyond Zero Emissions’ wish list are home energy retrofits for 2.5 million low-income households, the construction of 150,000 net-zero emissions social housing dwellings, and new investment in sustainable agriculture and land management practises.

Chair of Beyond Zero Emission Eytan Lenko told RenewEconomy that the organisation’s Million Jobs Plan has relied upon already commercially viable investments, including those which should attract a substantial level of private sector investment, and would be an effective way of generating a large number of jobs quickly at a critical moment for the Australian economy.

According to Lenko, the plan identified a range of measures able to create jobs in Australia quickly, generating up to 1.8 million job-years over the next five years, an outcome faster and more effective than what could be stimulated by the fossil fuel sector, with the additional benefit of working to make systemic contributions towards reducing Australia’s emissions

Renewables can rebuild Australia’s economy

Beyond Zero Emissions hopes the plan can be drawn upon by investors and governments to strengthen the Australian economy through investments in clean energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, and the electrification of transport.

“Australia needs the best solutions to unlock productivity and growth, and [Beyond Zero Emissions] is bringing together leaders in investment, business, and industry to have those ideas scoped and built”, chair of Beyond Zero Emissions Eytan Lenko said.

“We want industry, communities, and investors to build on this framework to generate the best ideas and work with key partners and private capital to assist Governments to rebuild our economy where possible.”

“Noone thought 2020 would turn out the way it has. We now have a unique opportunity to seize this moment, to re-tool, re-skill, and rebuild our battered economy to set us up for future generations”, Lenko added.

The jobs plan follows the release of an analysis by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, predicting that, unless ambitious climate change and energy policies are adopted by the federal government, as many as 11,000 existing jobs in Australia’s renewable energy sector could be at risk of flatlining investment.

Beyond Zero Emissions sees that strong investments in low emissions projects could help address the growing job deficit also caused by the ongoing disruption of Covid-19.

It is also yet another piece of research which shows that the main employment beneficiaries flowing from strong investments in clean energy projects will be blue-collar workers in regional Australia.

“Only last week, the ABS reported 835,000 job losses since March. We need urgent action to work alongside Governments to restore our economy. The Million Jobs Plan provides a framework to enable practicable bankable projects which will create jobs”, Lenko added.

The launch of the Million Jobs Plan was joined by co-founder of Atlassian Mike Cannon-Brookes and former executive secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres. Also endorsing the plan are senior business leaders, including former Macquarie Bank chair Kevin McCann and First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart.

“There is no doubt that The Million Jobs Plan is bold, but, importantly, it’s also do-able. This plan shows the way to a green (and gold!) economic recovery which will set us up for decades to come”, Cannon-Brookes said.

Beyond Zero Emissions previously released a vision for the Northern Territory, which detailed a plan for up to gigawatts of new renewable energy investment in the territory, embraced by the renewable energy sector, as well as by the Northern Territory government, and served as the impetus for the announcements of some of Australia’s largest proposed renewable energy developments.

This included Cannon-Brookes’ own involvement in the $20 billion Sun Cable project, which would see a massive development of new solar generation capacity in the Northern Territory, paired with a first-of-its-kind undersea transmission cable allowing zero emissions electricity to be exported to South-East Asia.

Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. He had previously worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.
First published by RenewEconomy on 29 July 2020. Republished with permission.

Photo No more fossil fuels. Joe Brusky. flickr cc.

6 August 2020

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